As part of its €400 million package to Afghanistan for 2003-04, the European Commission has adopted a proposal to finance a Fourth Reconstruction Programme with a total budget of €79.5 million. The purpose of this Programme is to enhance the living conditions of the ordinary Afghan population, including returnees, by providing a more secure environment and economic recovery. The Programme aims to restore political stability coupled with a fully operational public administration, to promote respect for the rule of law and human rights, especially those of women, and to alleviate poverty by improving levels of economic activity. These objectives support the roadmap set out in the 2001 Bonn Agreement for the creation of a stable and democratic Afghanistan. The programme underlines the European Commission's continuing commitment to the socio-political and economic rebuilding of Afghanistan.
The €79.5 million package breaks down as follows:
- € 23 million in support of rural development. The rural sector is the backbone of the Afghan economy on which more than 80% of the Afghan population depends,
- € 35 million for the reconstruction of the Kabul-Jalalabad-Torkham road. This is one of the most important transport routes, for imports as well as access to central Pakistan. The reconstruction of the road is key to revitalising the wider economy and boosting economic growth along its route.
- € 10 million in support of the reform of public administration. Modernising and strengthening the public administration is critical to enable the ATA to create a cohesive, law-abiding state capable of self-financing public sector spending, controlling its borders and fighting illicit drug trafficking.
- € 5 million in support to civil society with particular reference to the preparation of government elections. The Bonn Agreement commits the ATA to hold elections by mid 2004.
- € 6 million for refugees and Afghan nationals returning to Afghanistan to ensure that they have access to housing and basic services.
- € 0,5 for Contingencies given the current highly unpredictable situation in Afghanistan.
Afghan Government institutions are still weak. Consequently, the Delegation of the European Commission to Afghanistan will ensure overall responsibility for most of elements of the programme.
Contracts will be concluded directly between the Commission and implementing partners such as UN organisations, Non Governmental Organisations and private companies in the case of road reconstruction, and some other programme components. Government institutions will be fully involved in project identification and formulation, and will take responsibility for part of the public administration reform package. This will ensure full transparency of the Commission contribution and will help the Government to build the required capacity for more direct responsibility in future.
The Commission has been fully involved with the reconstruction of Afghanistan since 2001. The proposed 4th reconstruction programme is part of a €400 million Commission package for 2003-2004 signed by the EC in March 20031 and which concentrates on the four sectors of rural development and food security, public sector reform, economic infrastructure and support for the health sector
In 2002 the Commission provided more than €280 million for reconstructing Afghanistan, which includes about €73 million for humanitarian assistance provided by ECHO. Most of these funds have been contracted, demonstrating that the European Commission is not only strongly committed to Afghanistan, but fulfilling its commitments efficiently. In 2003, the Commission intends to provide an overall budget of €246 million plus approx. €48 million in humanitarian aid (ECHO).